Originally Posted by kirkor
You see obesity as a physical disorder? Or do you mean that more than activity must be changed in order to correct the condition?
Couldn't that 2nd pair also be the first pair, but farther along their journey towards optimal health?
Yes, obesity is a physical disorder, more specifically a disorder of excess fat accumulation.
The two pairs are different in both their health and their activity.
It's important to specify what physical disorder we're talking about so we understand the actual potential for improvement just from activity. For example, Teaser made the example of a young man and an old man, that's another pair where one is young and healthy, while the other is old and sick.
So let's look at that pair in detail. The young and healthy guy, he's got no physical disorder, his potential for fitness is greatest. But why does the old guy have a lesser potential for fitness? Is it just because he's old? Doesn't make sense, age has nothing to do with health. But disease acts over time, therefore the more time we're sick, the older we get, the sicker we get. We're not sicker because we're older, that's just incidental. Both age and disease progress simultaneously, that's why we make the assumption "age-related diseases".
To illustrate, take a kid, make and keep him sick all throughout puberty. As he reaches adulthood, he's still sick and moreso than he was when he was still a kid, but it's certainly not because he's an adult that he's sick or more sick, right? No, puberty acts over time, so he's grown into an adult independently of any disorder, but the disorder he's been suffering from has been progressing too, so he's sicker also because of time. It's no different when we start with an adult, then let him grow old or older. There's no a priori reason for health to decline, and if health does decline, it's not because of time, it's because there is an actual disorder acting over time.
Worded differently, the complete list of all known disorders does not include growing old(er). Growing older is normal, but it's not normal that we also grow sick for no other reason than time.
If we also include practice into the mix of growing old, isn't it plausible that our cells should be better at doing their thing of maintaining their integrity, in maintaining the body's health? They've been doing it for decades now, they must be genuine experts by now. If that's true, why do the facts prove this wrong?
Absence of activity is not a disorder, it cannot cause disease. This is because even though we are not active, our body is alive and maintains its health independently of its apparent activity. This means the baseline for health is perfect health. But what does it mean to be alive in the context of health? It's the cells doing their thing according to their DNA, that's it. Is there any gene that purposely makes us sick as we grow older? Absurd. The implication would be that we are programmed to grow sick and die at a predetermined time. Are we?
I'm off on a big tangent here but that's where the question of health and fitness leads inevitably as we dig deeper.
Fitness is improved through practice alone; health determines the potential for fitness; while practice appears to improve health, it merely does so because fitness and health tend to track together without any additional effort, so improving one will appear to improve the other as well.
Does our DNA control this ability to learn? Yes, more appropriately it possesses this ability. If it didn't, it would be impossible to learn and develop skills, fitness would be fixed at conception and could never be improved. It's even possible that growth would be impossible without this ability to learn, because growth stops eventually once we reach adulthood, and without the ability to learn when to stop, growth wouldn't start and if it did it wouldn't stop. The point here is that disease can be seen as disruption of DNA, therefore disruption of the ability to learn. However, DNA also includes the ability to learn about the disorder itself. But, there is no ability to overcome chronic disruptive pressures, i.e. a bad diet. We can see this with Pottenger's cats and generational epigenetics.
Now imagine a lean sprinter and a fat sprinter (more accurately, a light sprinter and a heavy sprinter). Both are lean and fat through their genes, nothing else, no disorder of any kind, their DNA is what it is without having been messed with, they are both in perfect health otherwise. Both are as fit as can be for the purpose, they can both run as fast as is possible according to their overall physiology. Which one wins? The lean one, the light one. To illustrate, let's pit a formula 1 car and a 10 wheeler truck. Which one wins?
Now we ask, can either of them get leaner or fatter just by doing more or less sprints? No, activity or lack thereof does not have the capacity to change their physiology in this respect. However, since we maintain skill through practice, we can improve (or in this case, maintain) or reduce skill with more or less practice.
Now let's look at our cells and wonder what happens as we grow older. If cells maintain the body's health, and if health declines as we grow older, doesn't that imply that our cells in fact practice less and less as time goes by? There's no a priori reason for this, so there must be some disorder going on, and this disorder only grows worse as time passes, or keeps constant pressure that accumulates and gradually overcomes the cells' ability to compensate, i.e. wear and tear or something like that. Well, when we're sick but still young, it's the same principle.
We could go on another tangent, hormones, it's quite interesting.